September's Safe Return Information
The school leadership team have worked with the Local Governing Body and Directors to plan our safe return to school in September. This planning has taken into account all of the updated Department for Education (DFE) guidance. You will also be aware that the government is replacing PHE with the newly formed Health Protection Institute (HPI) and the school will obviously adhere to any subsequent guidance from the new agency and the Department for Education.
Ilfracombe Academy’s risk assessment takes into account all of the up to date Department for Education (DfE) and Health Protection Institute (HPI) formerly Public Health England (PHE) guidance.
It has been collectively developed in partnership between our school’s Senior Leadership Team, Governors and Directors.
It continues to be a dynamic document that will be updated as new guidance is issued
Staggered start to the year
We will be extending our staggered start to the year so that the different year groups can gradually get used to the school environment. The 7th of September will only be for the new Year 7’s as the Primary guidance only allowed a virtual induction to take place. We would like them to have the opportunity to get to know their Tutor group, teachers and where their lessons will be before the rest of the school returns.
We would like students to wear their full uniform when they return to fulltime education in September. Therefore, if your child needs uniform please can Parents and Carers visit Pedlars or XL Embroidery over the summer break. If any families need any support with their uniform, please contact the school as soon as possible. The school also advises Parents/Carers to ensure their child has an appropriate coat to keep them dry on the way to and from school.
Please also note that on the days where students have Physical Education they will be required to come to school in their PE kit so we can avoid using the changing rooms, which can be crowded and where it is difficult to avoid lots of student movement.
Year 7 - 1st Day
We confirm that we would like our new Year 7 students to come to school at 8.45am on Monday 7th September wearing their colour-coded badge that shows their name, tutor group and tutor room listed on it. We are also asking students to bring a packed lunch for the first few days so that we can get them set up on the schools Biometrics system. There will be packed lunched available for students in receipt of Free School Meals? The badge will ensure that the students can easily be directed to their Tutors on the first day. Please can Parents/Carers refer to the letter they also received on July 21st for details about their Childs tutor badge.
The DfE and HPI remind Parents/Carers of the following items:
Parents/Carers should not gather at the school gates
Parents/Carers should not send their child to school if they are showing Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or if someone in their household is showing symptoms
Parents/Carers should arrange a test if you or your child develops symptoms and inform your school of the results
If the test is positive, follow guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, and engage with the NHS Test and Trace process.
Link to further DfE Parent/Carer guidance
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-in-the-autumn-term (released on August 21st)
Further guidance on face coverings
Background Government guidance on the wearing of face coverings for members of the public can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/facecoverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own
DfE guidance on the wearing of face coverings in schools can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-on-face-coverings-in-schools
The latter can be summarised as follows:
•The government revised its guidance on students in Year 7 and above on 25 August 2020.
•While the government is still recommending that face coverings are not necessary, schools “will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas if they believe that it is right.”
• In parts of the country where transmission rates are high the guidance states that, “face coverings should be worn by adults and students in secondary schools when moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.”
• Face coverings are still not necessary in the classroom.
We have consulted a number of partners both locally and nationally before deciding on the following guidance. Please be aware that our Feeder Primary schools including Ilfracombe Junior will be following a slightly different way of working as their guidance differs to Secondary aged students.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. There is also increasing evidence that airborne transmission can occur, especially in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing where possible, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus.
The best available scientific evidence is, that when used in the appropriate circumstances, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets, helping to protect others.
Ilfracombe Academy have adopted a wide range of protective measures to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19. Our full risk assessment will be/is published as required on the school website on Tuesday 1st September. However, despite these measures, there are still occasions, specifically in secondary school settings, where social distancing is difficult, such as in corridors or busy communal areas.
Our aim here is to provide a further layer of protection to both students and staff.
Face Coverings should be worn as follows:
All our students will be expected to wear a face covering in corridors and any communal areas where social distancing outside of the year group bubble is difficult (this includes St Christopher’s Hall). Some students may be exempt from wearing a face covering (see below for guidance).
All our students travelling to and from school via public transport or school transport will be expected to wear a face covering and follow all appropriate hygiene measures required by the respective companies. Some students maybe exempt from wearing a mask (see transport guidance)
All staff, will be expected to wear face coverings in all communal school areas. This will include - corridors, staffrooms, staff workrooms, shared office spaces where social distancing is difficult, staff toilets and whilst undertaking duties at break/lunch times in enclosed spaces such as dining halls. This will also apply to staff meetings. However, even with face coverings in use, appropriate social distancing, hygiene measures and hand sanitisation should still fully apply. Some staff, as for students, maybe exempt from wearing a mask (see below for guidance).
Staff are able to use Masks and/or Visors during lessons if they wish to do so Teaching Assistants who are required to work in close proximity to students in the classroom, and therefore unable to maintain social distancing, will be provided with both a face covering and visor.
Ilfracombe Academy staff and secondary age students should bring their own face coverings to school as they would for use on public transport, shops, and wider society. If any individual forgets to bring a face covering to school, a disposable mask will be provided.
All visitors, including Parents/Carers, Ilfracombe Academy will be required to wear a face covering whilst on site.
All face coverings should be slogan free, where possible should be plain and should not cause offence to any member of our learning community.
Face coverings do not need to be worn:
By any member of staff or pupil who is exempt (please see the exemption guidance for further information).
By students in the classroom or during lessons.
Whilst consuming food and drink at break and lunch times.
By office/admin staff working in a COVID-secure office space . However, those staff are still free to do so if they wish.
Whilst students are mixing with students within their own year group bubble only.
Any Parents/Carers who have any concerns or queries, please contact their child’s Head of Year or Pastoral Coordinator
Staff and students who may be exempt:
All Ilfracombe Academy promote an inclusive culture and recognise that some staff and students will require reasonable adjustments to be made to accommodate their unique circumstances and allow them to access the educational opportunities and workplace in an equitable manner.
The Heads of Year and Pastoral Coordinators supported by the Senior Leadership Team will work closely with students and their families who have concerns about our policy on face coverings being worn in communal areas. Wherever possible, it is hoped that by engaging in supportive dialogue any barriers can be overcome so that the pupil will feel able to wear a face covering.
The Senior Leadership Team will be mindful of the following government advice when discussing individual cases with staff and students:
In settings where face coverings are required in England, there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.
This includes (but is not limited to):
• People who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
Where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
If you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
In the majority of cases it is likely that students who, after appropriate discussions between staff and parents/carers, will be considered exempt from wearing face coverings are already known to staff and may well already be registered as SEND students.
Supporting students who are identified as exempt Ilfracombe Academy should adapt existing local procedures to help identify students who have been identified as not needing to wear face coverings in communal areas, e.g. they may be issued with an ‘exemption card’, similar to those issued when students need to be able to leave lessons to use the toilet for medical reasons.
All staff should be aware of students who are exempt from wearing face coverings and should be vigilant when supervising communal areas that these students are not subjected to any form of harassment from their peers.
Year Group Bubbles
All of our students will learn and socialise in year group “bubbles” while they are on site. Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 (KS3) will be taught the majority of their lessons in one room, with teaching staff moving between rooms. KS3 students will be still be able to access practical based subjects by being escorted by their specialist teacher to and from the practical space. This will mean that only 21 teachers need to move rather than 600 students. This is a model we have used successfully with Year 10 as they have returned during lockdown. They will however still be able to access specialist teaching and facilities for the majority of their practical subjects. They will be escorted to and from those areas by their teachers. Students in Years 10,11,12 and 13 will be able to move to their teaching spaces ensuring they follow our socially distancing procedures. Corridors have been clearly marked to support this. This will allow exam year groups to access specialist teaching spaces in order to prepare them fully for their examinations next year. Extra cleaning will be taking place during the school day to keep rooms as clean as possible.
Movement around the school buildings
The corridors have been set up to promote social distancing with a clear line down the middle of each two-way corridor and clear social distancing markers that students and staff will need to adhere to. The stairwells are one way also with clear signage. The “up” stairwells are Student Services and the small staircase that leads up from St Christopher’s Hall to the PCRE corridor. The “down” stairwell comes out next to the music department. The students will be remote supervised by SLT and members of the pastoral team during lesson changeovers.
Enhanced Cleaning & Hand Sanitizing
We have implemented a plan that ensures all students and staff sanitise their hands at the start and end of each lesson, social periods when they are eating, and after using the toilet facilities. We have also employed more cleaning staff who will regularly clean the toilets and bannisters around the school where there is a high level of hand contact. The cleaning staff will sterilise and wipe down the classrooms that are accessed by different classes each day.
Equipment for school day (including hand sanitiser)
Students will need to bring their own equipment each day which includes a bottle of hand sanitiser that they can use at their own convince at the start and end of lessons. They will need also need to bring all the normal equipment to school such as a pencil case containing, pens, pencils, rubber, ruler and a calculator. As for uniform please contact us if this a concern for you.
In the short-term and certainly for the first term, students will not be able to use their lockers. This is because we cannot guarantee that any student’s locker is situated next to their tutor base which would make it impossible to keep the year group bubbles apart. This is another reason why we strongly urge students to only carry what they need for each day in their bag.
Student Drop Off
Structure of the School Day
All the guidance we have indicates that reducing mixing of student groups and limiting movements of students in a school setting, helps to limit the spread of illness. Therefore, the safety measures we are putting in place reflects this. The school is taking all measures that it can to minimise risk. Start and finish times will remain the same this includes 8.50am for registration with the end of the day at 3.25pm. However, there will be a slightly staggered release of pupils at the end of the day. For parents/Carers who drive their children to school the drop off times will remain the same, but the pick-up times will be different to reduce congestion on Worth Road and to ensure the safety of our students. Please see the “Staggered Release” section for more details on pick-up times. In line with DfE guidance we ask that Parents/Carers do not gather at the school gates to minimise any crowding and to promote our social distancing protocols. We will also require parents to make an appointment if they wish to see a member of the school staff, unless it is a real emergency.
Break & Lunch Times
Social times will be staggered with year groups accessing either Break A, B or C and Lunch A, B and C (please see structure of the day table below). We strongly advise parents/carers to provide their child with a packed which will mean their child will not need to queue up for their meals as this will take longer than usual. The canteen staff have all been trained to be Covid compliant and we still offer a ‘grab and go’ to ensure we can move the students the Dining Hall quickly and safely. Students will then move to their zoned social areas outside. In case of inclement weather:
KS3 students will need to return to their tutor room where they will be remotely supervised by the duty team.
KS4 students will always need to go to St Christopher’s Hall so their rooms can be cleaned. However, on dry days they will still be able to go outside to their allocated social area
In order to follow the DfE guidance we will be using a staggered release at the end of the school day. Please could any Parents and Carers that transport their child to school look at the release times below, and plan their journey so that we do not have a build-up of waiting traffic along Worth Road. Please refer to the video above about safely picking up and dropping off your child.
Parents should also ensure that they don’t park on the pavement or any double yellow lines to ensure that all pedestrians are safe. It would be advisable that parents arrange to pick up their child away from the school site to increase safety, the flow of traffic and increase the likely hood of you getting away from the school site in good time.
Transport to School
The DfE and Devon published updated guidance on the 11th August on school transport.
DfE School Transport Guidance
Devon School Transport Link
Devon Transport are looking to add additional capacity including the duplication of some service buses. This will mean that two service buses will run at the same time with adults accessing one bus and students accessing the other. Initially they expect to run these additional services until October ½ term where they will communicate any changes to parents and carers.
The updated guidance also follows the ‘Bubble’ system that we had already planned and communicated to parents/carers in July. It also now advises that all children and young people aged 11 and over to wear face coverings when travelling to school on dedicated transport. This closely follows the guidance that insists on the mandatory wearing of face coverings on Public Transport and in shops. After the children have left the bus the children will need to sanitise their hands, remove their face covering and place it in a named plastic/freezer bag so they store it during the school day to ensure it stays as sterile as possible. The children will then need to sanitise their hands again before they enter the school building. Students will also be able to dispose of any used tissues in a covered bin that will be located at the front of every bus. Please see the diagrams below for visual guide of the year group bubbles.
We hope to resume extra-curricular activities as soon as it is safe to do so and when our students and staff have settled into the school. The school will inform Parents/Carers about the clubs that will be starting as soon as we feel departments are in a position to deliver the activities safely. Once again, these activities will have to take place in year group bubbles.
Please note that peripatetic music teachers will not be in school for the first month. We hope after that date to offer the full range of peripatetic tuition to as many students as possible.
The school will continue to monitor any further guidance and look to return to a normal way of working as soon as it is safe to do so. Thank you for all your support so far this year. We look forward to seeing all of our students returning to school in early September and until then we hope all our students and their families enjoy the rest of the summer break.
The government are looking for schools to implement a “screening” programme in January. In addition, they also want staff and students that are identified as close contacts to be tested daily for a week so that they can continue to attend school. We will handle your child’s data with the same level of protection whether their test is returned with either a positive or negative result.
If your child test positive, then we will ask them to be collected from school and for their parent/carer to book them a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test through NHS Track & Trace. Any close contacts will be able to stay in school as long as their parents have given consent for them to administer their own lateral flow test every day for 5 days. If a child tests positive during this process, then once again they will be asked to be collected from school and for their parent/carer to book a PCR test through NHS Track and Trace. The Government have stated that if parents do not give consent for their child taking lateral flow tests, then their child will have to self-isolate for 10 days. It is parental choice whether they give consent for their child to be involved in the testing but the more parental consents that we have, the more effective the testing process will be across the school.
Please be reassured that before any testing takes place, we will be seeking parental consent - please click on the link below to give your consent. We would appreciate parents/carers completing the link by 5pm on Sunday 3rd January as it will help us to plan ahead.
We have continued to set up our testing centre and train the initial testing team staff. This is a very time consuming process, but we are determined that we shouldn’t rush this process as we want to get it right. We feel that by Monday 11th January we will have everything in place to start testing our Staff and Keyworker and Vulnerable students whose parents/carers have given consent to be tested. We encourage all parents/cares to give their consent as we feel it will help our school to have a safer return after February half term.